Various Artists: Introducing Townes Van Zandt via the Great Unknown (For the Sake of the Song)

 |   |  1 min read

Loophole and Ciaran Kirby: Lungs
Various Artists: Introducing Townes Van Zandt via the Great Unknown (For the Sake of the Song)

The late Van Zandt is hardly the little-known cult artist he once was: there are many tribute albums (Steve Earle most recently) and his estate must coin it in from all the covers alt.country artists do.

Most of Van Zandt’s originals were spare, lowkey and acoustic -- so the surprise here is what an embellishing or reconfiguring approach some of these largely unknown artists or cult figures take. Townes followers will double-take when Sweden’s Thomas Denver Jonsson re-jigs the delicate ballad To Live is to Fly.

Among the better-known names in the multi-national cast are J. Tillman (a sometimes Fleet Fox on a breath-catching My Proud Mountains), the Be Good Tanyas (a dreamy, banjo-backporch Waiting Around to Die), Jad Fair (a typically odd Turnstyled Junkpiled), Stephen Duffy and the Lilac Time (a straight Pancho and Lefty) and Chicago’s Chris Mills (Tecumseh Valley)

You sense that for some Van Zandt’s song is incidental to their style -- but certainly Christina Kulukundis, Howie Gelb’s protégé Kate Maki, Gustav Haggren (also from Sweden’s alt.country cabal), Sydney’s aching Telafonica and Kevin Tihista (swelling guitar-pop on Still Looking For You) indicate they understand the man and his music.

A calling card for the unfamiliar names, but Van Zandt’s own albums are where to the real art lies.

You might like to compare the Loophole and Ciaran Kirby sample track (above) with the same song at the Steve Earle link.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

John Rowles: If I Only Had Time (Universal)

John Rowles: If I Only Had Time (Universal)

This unnecessarily expansive collection -- two discs, 53 songs and doubtless a tie-in to the autobiography -- confirms a few things about the big voiced singer. That he could really belt out... > Read more

Betty Davis: They Say I'm Different (Light in the Attic)

Betty Davis: They Say I'm Different (Light in the Attic)

No, this isn't here just so we can display the striking cover of the former Mrs Miles Davis looking like some astral traveller from Ziggy Stardust's planet. In fact this is something of lost... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Eric Andersen: Blue Rain: Live (Appleseed/Elite)

Eric Andersen: Blue Rain: Live (Appleseed/Elite)

After four decades as a troubadour, Andersen has finally got round to recording a live album -- but he has done it with typically wilfulness: he hooked up with a Norwegian blues band and recorded... > Read more

The Undertones: The Undertones (1979, reissue 2009)

The Undertones: The Undertones (1979, reissue 2009)

It's a measure of how obsessed rock music is with the present tense that in 1979 Paul Morley in the NME would proclaim, "The Undertones have created the greatest pop of this age and thus every... > Read more